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Greenville Grad, Thiel Wrestling Coach Craig Thurber Inducted into UPJ Athletics Hall of Fame

Greenville HS Graduate Craig Thurber (2nd from left) along with two of his fellow inductees, Shad Benton (far left) and Bob Rukavina (2nd from right) along with his UPJ head coach, Pat Pecora, who is the UPJ AD. Photo courtesy of UPJ Athletics

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Craig Thurber, a Greenville High School graduate and the head wrestling coach at Thiel, was inducted into the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday.

Thurber was one of six individuals inducted into the Class of 2023 at a ceremony on the UPJ campus.

“This means a lot to me,” Thurber said. “There have been a tremendous amount of people that were part of this journey and I thank each and every one of them, especially, my parents and grandparents for all the phone calls, rides, and travel across the country to watch us compete. It’s quite humbling to be named with all of the other great student-athletes before me. I am very appreciative of this honor.”

A 1991 graduate of Greenville, where he won a PIAA championship in Class 2A at 171 pounds in 1991 while also finishing second in at 171 pounds in Class 2A in 1990, Thurber left his mark at UPJ by winning three NCAA Regional titles and earning three NCAA Division II All-American honors, including finishing as the 1995 National Runner-up at 177 lbs.

Thurber joined Head Coach Pat Pecora’s starting line-up as a true freshman in the 1991-92 season and was a mainstay at 177 lbs. for the remainder of his career.

As a sophomore in 1992-93, Mr. Thurber posted a 30-4 record and secured his first NCAA All-America honor with a fifth-place finish, before placing sixth in 1994 with a 31-3 overall record.

Thurber, a member of four straight Mountain Cat NCAA Regional Tournament Championship teams, took the next step in his outstanding wrestling career as a senior in 1995 when he reached the NCAA National Finals at 177 lbs. and finished as the national runner-up. His three falls in 10:51 at the NCAA Championships earned him the 1995 Gorriaran Award for most falls in the leas amount of time and helped Pitt-Johnstown to a fourth-place finish, the program’s highest ever to that point.

His name is still etched in Mountain Cats history.

Thurber’s 120 career victories are tied for sixth on the Pitt-Johnstown All-Time Wins List with fellow hall of famer Rob Yahner, and his .857 career winning percentage (120-20-0) is eighth all-time in Mountain Cat history. In addition, Thurber’s 38 victories during the 1994-95 season remain a record in that weight class.

In 1996, Thurber earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology at Pitt-Johnstown, then received a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from Slippery Rock University, where he served as a volunteer wrestling coach from 1997-1999.

Thurber then spent three years as a Health and Physical Education Teacher at Keystone Charter School and a volunteer wrestling coach at his Alma Mater, Greenville High School.

In 2003, Thurber was named the head wrestling coach at Thiel College. He remains in that position today.

In his 20 years at Thiel, he has coached multiple All-Americans and NCAA Scholar-Athletes and has been named the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) Coach of the year nine times. His teams have finished in the Top 25 in overall GPA seven times.

Thurber is a volunteer at his local Lion’s Club and various other organizations in the Greenville area and coaches his son’s 13/14-year old baseball team.

Thurber and his wife, Kristin, have three children, Keetin, Karis, and Cael. They reside in Greenville.

Joining Thurber in being inducted Saturday were Shad Benton ’02 (Wrestling), Kaleb Fleck ’11 (Baseball), Linda Renzi (Meritorious Service), Bob Rukavina (Men’s Basketball Coach), and Jennifer Tuscano ’99 (Women’s Basketball).

Among those on hand to celebrate Thurber were three former Mountain Cat wrestlers from District 9 including fellow Hall of Famers Isaac Greeley (Class of 2019), from Port Allegany, Tony Clark, from Oswayo Valley, and Jared Kulek, from Ridgway.

UPJ and D9 alums from left Tony Clark (Oswayo Valley), Jared Kuleck (Ridgway), and Isaac Greeley (Port Allegany) were on hand to celebrate Craig Thurber. Greeley is a 2019 UPJ Hall of Fame Inductee

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